4 Simple Ways To Eat Healthy As A Student (& Avoid The “Freshman 15”)

By Karyl Trejo | 8 March 2022 1291 views
healthy eating tips for students

How To Stay Healthy As A College Student

4 Simple Ways To Eat Healthy As A Student (& Avoid The “Freshman 15”)

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As a college student, you have quite a bit on your plate… both literally and figuratively.

Not only are you trying to secure your education, you’re probably also juggling your extracurriculars (such as marching band, clubs, and even internships) at the same time.

And that’s not even accounting for your social life. Hello, campus parties every weekend!

Eating healthy is most likely the last thing on your mind. Not only are you trying to force yourself out of your bed for your 8 a.m. class (seriously, who thought it would be a good idea to schedule something that early?!)… but you’re also on a college student’s budget.

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What that means is you’re probably eating a steady stream of cheap granola bars, ramen noodles, and whatever you can beg off your friends in the cafeteria.

And the fact is, the “freshman fifteen” – those dreaded pounds that seem to magically find their way on your body during your first year of college – isn’t just a scary urban legend or a myth. Based on how your pants are fitting you right about now, you’re most likely very much aware of them!

Look, college is hard and downright stressful. While it can be tempting to throw all of your good eating habits out of the window in the name of survival… please resist the urge to fall face-first into a plate of ooey-gooey cheesy nachos during an all-night study sesh.

Whether you realize it or not, you can enjoy a healthy diet, avoid unwanted weight gain, and survive college…all while still wearing the same pants you showed up to the first day of school in!

4 Simple Ways To Eat Healthy As A Student (& Avoid The “Freshman 15”)

1) Eating Healthy On The Cheap

It’s an extremely common myth that eating healthy means dropping big dollars at the grocery store. One glance down the organic food aisle and you’ll be running out of the store, screaming in a panic while clutching your wallet.

Don’t worry. A lot of people fall for the same trap, too.

The good news? Eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive.

Instead of reaching for overpriced “fancy” healthy foods, you should instead think out of the box.

No, really. Put those expensive, single-serve boxed meals and snacks back on the shelf and back away slowly.

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To save money and eat healthy, you should look at what fruits and veggies are in season. Apples, carrots, and celery are almost always super cheap. Add a tub of hummus and you’re set for snacks!

And as far as breads, you don’t need to splurge on those expensive seeded brands. Just grab a loaf of store-brand whole-wheat. Throw in some all-natural peanut butter and some honey (if you’re craving a touch of sweetness) and you have the fixings for an easy lunch.

Have you considered oatmeal? Rolled oats are surprisingly dirt cheap and you can dress them up in so many ways. Add some banana slices (also major cheap!), a dash of cinnamon, and a spoon of that peanut butter, and you have breakfast for mere pennies a serving.

See? That wasn’t so hard, was it?

4 Simple Ways To Eat Healthy As A Student (& Avoid The “Freshman 15”)

2) Surviving Sorority/Fraternity Parties

Ugh, those parties.

You both love ‘em and you hate ‘em, too. Sure, they’re a great way to socialize… but you always wake up feeling mega gross and bloated the next day.

But let’s be honest here. You’re not giving up on those.

Why should you? They’re your escape from the grind of your studies and a great way to make friends, too.

However, they’re also a way to sneak extra pounds onto your body, as well. Womp-womp.

If you’re wanting to make the most of your campus parties, you need to arrive with a plan. For instance, if you’re of legal drinking age, pace yourself. Chase every drink with a glass of water, and avoid syrupy mixers (like juice or soda).

If someone’s set out food for the party, glance over it before you fill up your plate. Allow a little bit of wiggle room for treats… but avoid stuffing yourself silly on cubes of cheese or bacon-wrapped snacks.

If there are fruits and veggies, help yourself to those. Also set a limit on how many refills you can get. Tell yourself that you can have as many fruits and veggies as you want, but you get only one small plate of the rich stuff.

Enjoy a nibble of the stuff that you really like. And of course, don’t feel like you have to eat or drink anything that you don’t want.

By setting up guidelines for yourself, you’ll go back to your dorm feeling light and refreshed – not icky, puffy, and heavy – after a party.

4 Simple Ways To Eat Healthy As A Student (& Avoid The “Freshman 15”)

3) Healthy Grab-And-Go Meals For Your Busy Schedule

One of the biggest challenges of the collegiate lifestyle is the fact that you’re not exactly given a full kitchen to work your culinary magic in.

If you’re lucky, you have a communal kitchen in your dorm. At the most, though, you probably have a mini-fridge, a microwave, and maaaaybe a portable cooktop.

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How can you be reasonably expected to whip up a healthy and lean meal with so limited tools at your disposal?

The answer? A little creative finesse, that’s how!

Stock up on BPA-free plastic food storage tubs and pre-make some meals that you can grab on the way out the door. Load the tubs up with dry oats, powdered skim milk, a little cinnamon, some almonds, and some raisins.

Add some boiled water and grab a spoon… and you have an easy and tasty meal you can eat during class.

Remember, there’s no shame in peanut butter sandwiches and an apple for lunch, either. It’s fast, cheap, and filling. What more could you ask for?

Even pasta can be a healthy option. Just make sure you have low-sodium marinara sauce on hand and some whole-grain pasta. Whip up a large batch, stick the leftovers in the fridge, and zap it when dinner time rolls around.

(Pro tip: angel hair pasta cooks in just four minutes. Four minutes! Who knew? That’s pretty much the definition of fast food right there, huh?)

And yes, you can totally use those little packets of shaker cheese left over from a pizza party to top your pasta meal. As long as your diet is mostly healthy, a little treat here and there is absolutely fine!

4 Simple Ways To Eat Healthy As A Student (& Avoid The “Freshman 15”)

4) Gain Smarts, Not Weight

Being a college student is hard. It’s a time of your life where you can really feel the pressure on you 24/7. And it can definitely seem like it’s going on forever, too.

You’re wondering where you’re going with your life, if your degree is worth it, if you’re going to be happy in your career.

Look, it’s completely normal to be stressed out. Instead of taking that stress out on food, though, try to find healthy ways to channel it.

For instance, you can join a running club. There’s no better way to blow off steam than lacing up your sneakers and hitting the pavement, right? Take your frustrations out on a 5K instead of a bag of jellybeans.

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Or join a debate team. There’s nothing quite like a heated discussion with your peers to help you vent and keep your cool.

Sure, you may be worried about the future right now. It can seem incredibly scary from where you’re standing. But it’ll get better.

And once you have your college degree in hand, you’ll be pretty much unstoppable.

But you just gotta make it through those four years of college first. 

By focusing on your studying, finding healthy coping habits, and making smart dietary choices, you can be a college success story.

And you know what? If you follow these helpful tips along the way, you can totally do it without gaining a single unwanted pound!

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Nothing brings up hunger like running around campus, piles of papers to write, and stressful exams.

The “freshman 15” is pretty understandable when you’re going through all of that and need some comforting food to get you through the day.

The good news is you don’t have to lose that comfort to stay in shape.

Actually, I’m going to suggest you eat MORE.

As a college student, there’s one thing in particular that you should be eating a TON of:

Protein.

Studies have shown that people who eat more protein can burn up to 441 more calories per day than those who don’t. [1]

That’s especially true of younger folks; you generally don’t have to worry at all about your body’s ability to process protein into useful amino acids.

So try to eat more of the following foods at meal time (or when stress-snacking):

  • Eggs
  • Lean meats
  • Chickpeas
  • Yogurt and dairy (if not intolerant)
  • Nuts and seeds

You’ll feel fuller… less sluggish… AND naturally burn more calories.

And if you want to “enhance the burn”… there are a couple more things you can do to speed up your metabolism without working out.

Here they are – one is so easy, it only requires the turn of a knob:

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